The history of the Armant Empire is one of reconstruction and the cautious expansion into a world devastated by the predations of the Dark One and its war upon the nations of the old world. All of history is hinged upon that moment, broken into the time before and the time after the climactic battle between the God That Was and the Dark One.
The Years of the High Throne are the pre-war paradise, when the surface of the world was covered by great cities and sprawling nations who were secure in their mastery of the planet. Historians note that it was a time of plenty, with tremendous facility in philosophy and the arts, but also typified by a lack of skill in magic, warfare, and civic responsibility. Scholars maintain that it was this senescence of the group identity that lead first to the corruption of society and, ultimately, to its downfall in the time of war.
Following the ascent of the Empire, the calendar began counting in the Years of the Middle Throne. The modern era—nearing its second millennium of existence—is a catalogue of the Nation-City of Armant and the Empire that has grown out of it beneath the benevolent guidance of the Armant Empress Incarnadine. A harsher era than the one it follows, the people of Armant place more weight upon skill of arms and service to society, which has kept it secure from outside threats during its growth, but also kept that growth to a deliberate, conservative pace. Despite being significantly smaller than even the least of the nations of the Years of the High Throne, scholars believe that the Armant Empire is also far more advanced than them in several key areas; most notably with battle magic and their use of the mysterious substance Azoth.
The Armant Empire officially employs a complex calendar whose specifics rely on the interactions of the planet's sun, the five remaining moons, mathematical projections about the path of the long-destroyed sixth moon, and dozens of major stellar phenomena that can be see with the naked eye such as nearby planets, polar stars, and especially bright objects in the night sky. However, this arrangement is only truly important to imperial fortune tellers and the most rarefied of scholars. For most people, there is a "common" lunisolar calendar that relies on a simplified relationship between the sun and the primary moon, the First Conviction. Every twelve years, this common calendar is synchronized to the official calendar in a highly stylized ceremony, which usually involves shifting the common calendar forward or backward by a single day.
Days begin at the middle point of the night, between the setting and rising of the sun.
A month is counted as 29 days, or the number of days it takes for the First Conviction as a new moon to transition through all its phases or 'mansions' to the next new moon.
On average, a year is the time it takes for the planet to circle the sun once, going through all four seasons, which is a period of slightly more than 362 days. This neatly bisects the length of one month, which results in even-numbered years having 12 months (known as an 'earthly' year) and odd-numbered years having 13 months (or a 'heavenly' year). These months are named (in order) Wheat, Oak, Peony, Rice, Maple, Chrysanthemum, Rye, Pine, Plum, Barley, Willow, and Poppy, with the thirteenth 'month of the Dragon' on odd-numbered years.
The year begins on the 'first day of the month of Wheat,' at midnight on the night of the new moon closest to the summer solstice, with the last month of the year occasionally gaining or losing a few days if it is needed to line up with the solstice.
Neither calendar system officially recognizes the existence of the 'week' as a legal measure of time, but such designations see common use amongst the lower strata of the Empire and within many of the Guilds, with it commonly being defined as a quarter of a month or seven days, while the last day of each month is variously either ignored or rolled into an eight-day 'long week.'
Days of celebration are very important to the various peoples of Armant, and each race has numerous days specific to themselves. However, there are also a number of holidays universally observed by all peoples, and are generally times of feasting, with many businesses and government offices closing for the day. The most notable holidays include:
New Year's Day: First day of the month of Wheat. One of the largest celebrations, with city-wide revelry, dances, feasting, music, and all manner of goings-on. During this day, it is customary for friends to make a great show of repaying any outstanding debts or unreturned favors from the previous year if circumstances allow, while people who have fallen on hard times in the previous year often find their own debts forgiven in a symbolic show of facing the new year unblemished by old mistakes. It is not unusual for businesses to remain shuttered for a day or two after New Year's as the owners sleep off their hangovers and get their establishments back into working order.
Night of Lanterns: Fifteenth day of the month of Wheat (usually). A celebration of the first full moon of the year. In contrast to New Year's Day, the Night of Lanterns is a very solemn affair, with families gathering together to pray and meditate in the wee hours of the morning by the light of traditional lanterns. When the sun rises, the rest of the day is considered a sacred time for family, to reinforce the bonds between each other and to deal with outstanding feuds or other problems. Many clans will have elaborate rituals conducted at the family cemeteries, with the renewal of oaths amongst members and long debates about their future direction. With the setting of the sun, they return to their prayers, this time to prepare themselves for the year to come.
Orchid Festival: Third day of the month of the Peony Blossom. Celebrating the third day of the third month of the year, it is considered a very auspicious day for love and often sees couples visiting sites of natural beauty such as gardens or lakesides.
Fallen Star Festival: Thirteenth through seventeenth days of the month of the Maple. Covering a full five days, this is a celebration of the winter solstice and the 'birth' of the Armant Empress (though, more accurately, it is centered around the time that the prophets Hyur and Gwein were led to Armant by the light of the last star). Feasting, music, and celebration all feature prominently, but the biggest event is the giving of gifts. On the first day, you give gifts to your immediate family; on the second day, you give gifts to your extended family and close friends; on the third day, you give gifts to your community (often in the form of volunteer work); on the fourth day, you give 'gifts' to the government (also known as the day you pay your taxes); and on the fifth and final day, you offer a gift to the Empress. Historically, these last gifts were ceremonially burned in lieu of actually presenting them to the distant Empress, though at some point in the last few centuries, gifts that survived the fire could be reclaimed (under the pretense that the Empress thought the gift could best serve her in the hands of her people), which has evolved into the custom of burning effigies of the gifts and then giving them out in a second round of gifting to one's family.
Festival of the Stairs: Ninth day of the month of the Chrysanthemum Blossom. To honor the living elders of a family, it is customary for those family members who have reached their age of majority in the year since the last festival (or the last few years, for smaller families) to take their elders on their backs and travel a difficult, circuitous route—often up numerous flights of stairs—to where the rest of the family has prepared a feast in the elders' honor.
Feast of Ghosts: Fourteenth day of the month of Rye. One of the most important days of the year, it is the day for honoring one's ancestors, who are believed to return to impart strength and wisdom to their descendants. The thirteen days leading up to the Feast are spent delivering increasingly-extravagant offerings to the gravesites of one's ancestors, while the actual day is spent in attendance at the site as family members recite elaborate poetry or perform dramatic reenactments of famous stories from the familial histories. Mediums, oracles, and others sensitive to spirits will often lapse into trances, briefly letting the voices of their forbears speak through them.
March of Banners: Twenty-first day of the month of the Plum Blossom. A day for honoring the armed services—both the military forces of the Legion and the local militia—it is marked by numerous martial parades, mock battles for public audiences, and the official Legion Review, when the Imperial Hebdomad surveys the whole of the active Legion and selects a single unit to be presented before the Middle Throne itself. Such is the grandeur of this honor (even if the Empress is seated behind a seven-layers-thick wall of screens) that units will drill and train for the entire year in hopes of being selected.
Dragon's Prow Festival: Fifteenth day of the month of the Willow. In honor of the vernal equinox, Guilds everywhere take to the water in elaborate, waterborne parades. They compete with each other to put forth the most fantastical display of sounds and colors, rowing through streams, across lakes, and even in the rural irrigation canals for the honor of their Guild. Many of the districts and wards will elect their favorite display, earning the winners no small amount of prestige over the coming year.
New Year's Eve: Twenty-ninth day of the month of the Poppy Blossom or twenty-ninth day of the month of the Dragon (usually). The last day of the year, it is spent in preparation for New Year's Day, with the hanging of banners, frantic last-minute preparations by seamstresses and dancers, and imperial proclamations being read aloud on every street corner.